NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passages: Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22
— Why is confession of sin a vital step on the path to changed behavior?
— What would it look like for you to prepare your heart for the Lord today?
Food for Thought:
Read Matthew 3:1-6. When Isaiah prophesied that there would be a “voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight,” he was using instructions that people in his day were familiar with. When a king came to town, you cleared the path. This was how you prepared for the arrival of the king. And yet, Jesus did not come to conquer in the way earthly kings conquer. And when John the Baptist made his declaration, his command was to “Repent!”
Repentance is changing one’s way of life as a result of a dramatic change in thought. But this raises the question, “Change our thoughts about what?” We need to change how we view the kingdom of heaven, change how we see our sin, and change how we see God. To repent involves a posture willing to change our perspective to align with that of the coming King. John fulfilled his purpose to prepare the way for the King by shining a light on the issue of sin so people would repent and be ready to receive the Savior.
Once we see our sin clearly, we are at a crossroads. We could continue on in our sin. But if our hearts are postured toward Christ, then the next step is confession, like those confessing their sins as they were being baptized in the Jordan River. Before we can move on to “do” anything about the sins we now see, we must have the courage, humility and willingness to confess them, then the fruit of changed behavior can come.
In this new kingdom with a new kind of king, what kind of preparation is required? It is not a physical clearing of a path to make way for Him to ride through the town. It is a preparation of the heart, of repenting from sin that might hinder our closeness with God. In this way, repentance is like making straight paths for the Lord in our hearts as we throw aside any sin that might hinder or entangle us.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God’s plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/gospelproject .